Monday, August 27, 2007

Free Radicals - Tour de France, Doping & Sport

whoa, our 11th show! crazy times. We are of course still very much open to hearing from people who have ideas for show themes - email us (well, Robyn) at

This week's show encompassed a few ideas we'd been tossing around as themes for a series of shows: the science of sport (physiologically, psychologically), and drugs and doping (the evolution of substance enhancement, its health effects, its ethical implications). In light of this year's Tour de France and the many media frenzies over athletes who had been caught for doping, we thought a show focussing on that and the pressures one faces as an endurance athlete of that caliber would address some of these sport-related themes.

Science journalist Hannah Hoag gave an outline of the history of doping and spoke with lawyer and Universite de Montreal graduate student Julie Samuelle, who is researching the role doctors play in athletic doping. McGill neuroscience PhD candidate Dave Crane was also in the studio, offering insight not necessarily as a scientist but as an athlete and Tour de France watcher himself. We tackled questions of why athletes use performance-enhancing substances, what is legal and illegal and how athletes are tested for drugs, and what the future of sport looks like in light of potential new doping methods, such as applying gene therapy to performance enhancement (as opposed to using it to treat injury, for example.)

Listen to the show!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Free Radicals - Pure Data / Open Source / Art

On today's show I talk with engineers/artists/musicians Philippe-Aubert Gauthier and Philippe Pasquier about the Pure Data Convention that will take place here in Montreal August 21-26 and how they merge their their love of science and engineering with making music/art. Gauthier and Pasquier's 16-loudspeaker interactive installation "Auditory Tactics" launches on the evening of August 22 on the main floor of Concordia's EV building (1515 St Catherine W) and will be in place until September 22.

The Pure Data Convention will include the work of more then seventy artists, musicians, developers and theoreticians from over 10 countries, much of which will be seen in Montreal for the first time. The exhibitions, performances, conferences and workshops will take place at the SAT, McGill University’s Tanna Schulich Concert Hall, Concordia University’s EV Building, Oboro and Studio XX.

The Convention "strives to reflect on the aesthetics and politics of free Open Source software culture by focusing on the development, artistic uses and critical writing about PureData. It provides a theoretical context for the understanding of media art practices that engage in the aesthetics and politics of Free Open Source Software Culture."

Listen to the show!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Free Radicals - Animal Sounds and Music

Today's show looks at the connection between animal sounds and human music. The relationship between humans and non-human animals is obviously complex and spans all levels of culture, from our spiritual lives to what we eat to our ways of communicating. What animal sounds can be called "music" and why? And how do animal sounds and "songs" influence musicians and composers? I talk to Montreal composer and musician Emily Doolittle about her research into this subject and some of the compositions she has written.

Listen to the show

Monday, August 6, 2007

Free Radicals - Mad Scientists! and Pop Culture!

Today's show is pretty fun stuff, with an intellectual bent, of course, because that's what we tend to do here at Free Radicals; we just can't stop our big huge brains that way. Yes, we delve into a brief history of mad scientists in popular culture, whether in film, tv, fiction or comic books.

I talk with Mike Schulz, who holds an MA in Media Studies from Concordia, about the links between the trope of the mad scientist and how it has changed over - from Frankenstein to X-Men to Lex Luthor - from the insane individual playing God to the corporate-backed slightly maniacle inventor.

I also speak with Kamal Fox, MA in Media Studies, about the men and monsters of Frankenstein and Dracula as they relate to romanticism and technology during the late 19th century.

Related links (from wikipedia and beyond):
• Haynes, Roslynn Doris (1994). From Faust to Strangelove: Representations of the Scientist in Western Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-4801-6.
• Frayling, Christopher – Mad, Bad and Dangerous?: The Scientist and the Cinema (Reaktion Books, 2005)
• Junge, Torsten; Doerthe Ohlhoff (2004). Wahnsinnig genial: Der Mad Scientist Reader. Aschaffenburg: Alibri.
• Skal, David J. (1997). Screams of Reason Mad Science and Modern Culture -
• Tudor, Andrew (1989). Monsters and Mad Scientists: A Cultural History of the Horror Movie. Oxford: Blackwell.
• Weart, Spencer R. (1988). Nuclear Fear: A History of Images. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Listen to the mad, mad show!